Human Fertility and Population Problems: Proceedings of the Seminar Sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

By Roy O. Greep; American Ethnological Society et al. | Go to book overview

GENERAL DISCUSSION, CLOSING SESSION

Dr. Levin opened the meeting for general discussion.

VICTOR MC ELHENY: I just want to make it known that there is one newspaper man present -- with all these comments about mass media. It is obvious from the efforts made by people concerned that population problems do get into the papers, at least in the United States. There is a certain amount of usefulness in the mass media in getting agreement on policy, at least on our own part. Also, I think, the newspaper business and magazines have confessions of failure to make in understanding the actual impact, the actual role that they do have in societies. I think their socio-culture role is very poorly understood and we probably ought to do a lot more about it.

JOHN MARSTON: Listening to the discussion on the sociological aspects of a campaign for contraception, I felt that Dr. Du Bois was quite right in concluding that, at present, we must concentrate on the cities. However, in many countries the rural population has the greatest proportion of reproductive activity and contributes most of the reproductive explosion; I don't think we can dismiss it as being beyond help.

The trouble with almost all the methods of contraception in use today is that they are so tedious, and often require such skill and determination in use that they become very inefficient. Some of the methods are too expensive for simple rural communities; but surely the main reason why contraception is not accepted by these communities is that it is far too great a "labor of love."

The new intra-uterine contraceptive devices are extremely effective and require absolutely no attention once they are properly in place. They seem to be safe and acceptable to most women. These devices could be very widely used in a rural community, no matter how primitive. I think we should imagine a program of contraception which would be led by a small nucleus of medical specialists, but staffed by adequately trained lay technicians. Such a service should be linked with a proper public health service, the rudiments of which already exist in most countries. It might depend on a

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